Coreopsis: Where to Plant

Coreopsis has become a firm favorite in my own garden. Their bright yellow and red flowers that go on for months are guaranteed to bring cheer to any space, while the “fluffy”, feathery foliage looks elegant in your beds and borders. 

Indeed, I’ve fallen so much in love with Coreopsis that I’ve tried growing it almost everywhere in my garden at one time or another. Of course, it tends to do better in some situations than others, and also looks best when planted in certain ways. 

In this article, therefore, we’re going to look at where to plant Coreopsis in your own garden. 

Coreopsis Growing Conditions

Coreopsis is a pleasantly forgiving plant, which is one of the things that I find most appealing about it. I’ve tried growing Coreopsis in all sorts of different conditions, from different soil types to different light levels. 

Coreopsis seems to survive almost anywhere I put it, almost like a weed. Of course this is ideal for gardeners who are new to Coreopsis – you’re almost guaranteed results if you start your plants early enough in the season. 

However while Coreopsis will grow almost anywhere, there are certainly a few tips that can set you up for the best success possible. Based on my own experience of growing Coreopsis for a number of years here are my recommendations:

Wind Protection

Coreopsis is a reasonably “wispy” plant that grows tall rather than wide. It has long, upright and fragile stems that can be easily snapped or misshapen by heavy winds or rain. A storm early in the year really has the potential to put your Coreopsis plants back by a few weeks as they try to “right” themselves after the damage.

A sheltered position therefore tends to work well. Growing Coreopsis against a fence or wall, for example, can cut down on the wind that hits the growing plants.

There is also something to be said for planting Coreopsis plants closely-together, so that the leafy foliage can mesh together, providing support for the group as a whole.

Lastly, particularly if planting Coreopsis near a path or lawn, it can be worth adding a plant support to keep them from inconveniently falling over. 

South-Facing Ideal

As a prairie plant, Coreopsis does well when it receives plenty of sunshine. This means that Coreopsis can be an ideal bloom to plant in your hot, dry, south-facing borders. 

While some supplementary watering is advised in the hottest of weather, Coreopsis seems to cope reasonably well under these conditions. 

Furthermore lots of direct sunlight helps the plants to grow big and busy, putting out a wealth of flowers nice and early in the season.

East or West-Facing Acceptable

Just because Coreopsis does well in full sun don’t assume that partial shade will cause them too many problems. I’ve successfully grown Coreopsis in both east and west-facing borders, where the plants themselves may only receive direct sunlight for part of the day. All the same, they have performed brilliantly. 

The benefit here of the less-fussy expectations of Coreopsis is that you can potentially reserve your “best positions” in the garden for the most showy or difficult plant species you plan to grow, then fill in the “tier 2” positions with Coreopsis as you see fit. 

Reasonably Drought-Resistant

As Coreopsis is reasonably drought-resistant it can flourish on even reasonably poor, dusty, dry earth. The earth in my garden is quite a heavy clay, but baked dry under the warmth of the summer sun it essentially turns to powder. All the same, my Coreopsis transplanted to this area with no soil improver still grew strongly. 

One additional benefit of Coreopsis is that their dense feathery leaves can help to reduce moisture loss at soil level. After watering, the earth stays damp for some time, shaded as it is by the Coreopsis plants. This seems most effective when the plants are positioned reasonably close together in a clump.

Coreopsis Appearance

While we’ve discussed ideal growing conditions when it comes to choosing where to plant Coreopsis, another important aspect is what they look like. Their dimensions, for example, can help you decide if you have suitable space available in any area you’re considering. 

Coreopsis Dimensions

There are a number of different Coreopsis varieties on the market. These varieties, combined with different growing conditions, can affect the eventual dimensions of any Coreopsis plant. Broadly speaking however we can say that Coreopsis grows to around 60-90cm tall, and is a reasonably narrow plant. 

When deciding where to plant Coreopsis this can have an impact. As a mid-height plant you may not want to plant it at the front of a border, where it could crowd out lower-growing plants. Instead Coreopsis tends to work best in the middle of the border, with taller plants behind and lower species in front.

An additional benefit of planting Coreopsis in the middle of a border is that the wispy plants can struggle to remain upright in strong winds or rain. By packing them in between other plants you help to naturally provide additional support.

Just as importantly however you should also consider planting density…

Coreopsis Planting Density

Planting Coreopsis together in a clump tends to be very effective. Part of this is, as described above, that the Coreopsis plants will help to support one another in less-pleasant weather.

We’ve also mentioned that a closely-planted clump can also help to reduce moisture loss from the soil in overly dry or hot weather.

Just as importantly, however, the foliage of the plants is quite subtle and wispy. Until it flowers, a Coreopsis plant is hardly the most exciting-looking specimen to have in your garden. When planted closely together as a clump, however, they create a far more impactful display.

I would recommend planting Coreopsis plants as little as 6-9” apart if you really want to make the most of them. Just wait for flowering to begin and you’ll find a virtual sea of reds and yellows, which will be covered by pollinating insects all summer long. 

Locations & Partners

To round off this article I’d like to discuss some ways you may choose to position your Coreopsis plants, just to provide a little inspiration. 

Containers & Pots

Coreopsis is reasonably shallow-rooted and grows to quite modest proportions so can easily be grown in containers. They can look fantastic sitting on a sunny patio, for example.

The one aspect to be mindful of when growing Coreopsis in containers is that the plants can be negatively affected by strong winds and rain. It may therefore be a good idea to stake the plants with a garden cane to keep them upright at all times. 

Prairie Gardens

I love a prairie garden and Coreopsis is an ideal plant for such areas. 

Combined with ornamental grasses and other drought-tolerant plants like echinacea and rosemary your Coreopsis can really help conjure up that prairie feel. They tall, feathery stems gently sway in any light summer breeze really helping to add the overall effect, 

Dry & Dusty Areas

If you’re willing to water your Coreopsis plants when rainfall has been light, I’ve had success growing them in dry, dusty areas. 

The plants provide plenty of shade which helps to lock in what moisture is present, especially when grown as a clump. In this way I’ve managed to grow Coreopsis successfully in parts of my garden where many other plants have struggled. 

Lush Herbaceous Beds

Lastly, if you’re a fan of the classic lush herbaceous border then Coreopsis can be added to the middle of the bed. They will almost take care of themselves all through spring and summer, putting on an almost never-ending display of flowers. 

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